Old Pulteney

Pulteney is a whisky distillery based in the far north of Scotland. For many years it was the most northerly on the mainland. That title now belongs to Wolfburn distillery.

The distillery produces a single malt Scotch whisky called Old Pulteney. The brand is marketed as the “genuine maritime malt”.

Distillery building of Old Pulteney made out of dark grey brick with a bright blue name sign attached on the wall
Old Pulteney distillery building


The spirit is fresh, malty and fruity with a salty, maritime character.

Barley grains
A bowl full of salt crystals
Vanilla pods with flower head of vanilla plant
Spiral of orange peel


Pulteney is equipped with two unusual pot stills.

The flat-topped wash still is fitted with the largest boil ball in the Scotch whisky industry. This creates a huge amount of reflux, causing spirit vapours to drop back into the pot to be distilled again.

The spirit still is tall with a bizarrely shaped lyne arm that curves and dips before connecting to an enormous purifier. This adds some oiliness to the spirit.

Both stills feed into worm tubs. These traditional condensers are made up of stainless steel vessels filled with water. Spirit vapour travels along a coiled copper tube submerged in the water. As the vapours cool, they return to liquid form. Worm tubs tend to produce weightier spirits than modern shell and tube condensers.

Around 60% of Pulteney's output goes into single malt bottlings. The rest contributes to various blended Scotch whiskies. 

Spirit allocated to single malt bottlings is matured in dunnage warehouses on-site. Exposure to the salty air blowing off the North Sea may contribute to the whisky's coastal character.

Old Pulteney matures predominantly in ex-bourbon casks, though a small number of sherry casks are used as well. For the Huddart expression, casks that once held peated single malt have been used to give the whisky a slightly smoky note.

The 12-year-old single malt is bottled at 40%. The rest of the range is bottled at 46% or higher. 


Pulteneytown is the fishing port of Wick in the far north of Scotland. It was designed by civil engineer, Thomas Telford. The port was named after Sir William Pulteney, Director General of the British Fisheries Society. By the mid-nineteenth century, it had grown to become the largest herring port in Europe.

Wooden bridge going over a river to an green ait in Speyside on a nice day
Speyside - Scotland

James Henderson moved to Pulteneytown in 1825 and established a distillery. The business remained in his family until the 1920s when it was sold to James Watson & Company. Three years later it was sold again, this time to Dewar’s. From there it became part of DCL.

In 1930 the distillery was mothballed. The closure came as a result of several contributing factors. Prohibition in the US left distillers without a key export market and Wick had its own problems to deal with. The rising temperance movement led to it being declared a “dry town” in 1922. The sale of alcohol was banned for 25 years.

The temperance vote was repealed in 1947. Within three years, Pulteney distillery was back in production. By then it was under the ownership of Hiram Walker & Sons who renovated and increased capacity in 1958.

Allied Distillers took over in 1961 and later sold to Inver House in 1995. Pulteney had largely been used to supply blenders but the new owners took a different approach. In 1997, a 12-year-old single malt was released for the first time. 

In 2017, Inver House launched a new core range of single malt bottlings. The classic 12-year-old was joined by Huddart and new 15, 18 and 25-year-old expressions.